In March 2023, juniors are invited to take a free SAT at The Bay. The SAT is a three-hour college admissions test with over 150 questions that lets students show colleges what they know and how they can apply their knowledge. Senior Reece Lampel took his SAT in 2021 and said he attributes many of his college acceptances to his score of 1520.

“I think my SAT score makes me a much more competitive candidate for colleges and as a result, I believe I will get more opportunities for internships during college and jobs right after graduation,” Lampel said. “A good SAT score doesn’t determine all your success in life, but it can be a great contributor to future success.”

Another possible exam high school students may take is the American College Test (ACT). The ACT is another curriculum-based college entrance exam that assesses how well high school students are prepared for college. Although it has more questions than the SAT – with 215 questions and an optional essay – junior Jenna Savitz prefers taking this test.

“I prefer the ACT because the content itself is more direct, but what I have found to be a struggle for me is the timing because it’s a very fast-timed test,” Savitz said. “But the more I practiced, the more I picked up on the test’s format and overall understanding of what was being asked of me.”

English teacher Dr. Nicole Pollino said she recommends taking the SAT if you are more mathematically inclined, and the ACT if you prefer science. She said that in the end, it is just student preference and the strategies for the reading in both exams are the same. She has test-taking strategies for students hoping to take the tests in the future.

“Read the questions before reading the passage and annotate the reading comprehension passages,” Pollino said. “Make sure you understand what the question is asking. Identify key words and phrases and eliminate at least two incorrect answers.”

Lampel prepared for the SAT with a tutor that taught him similar strategies and had five one-hour sessions during the month leading up to the exam. He said that taking the PSAT also helped because he saw he was lacking in the English area so his tutor focused on teaching him about that specific section.

“We did a lot of practice tests and he taught me about different kinds of questions in the reading section, patterns to look out for in reading passages and how to use punctuation and grammar for the writing section,” Lampel said. “As I studied, I got higher scores on practice because I was understanding the format of the test better and I learned how to answer specific types of questions that confused me before.”

Savitz said her number one test taking strategy for the ACT was to use the process of elimination because since it is a multiple choice test, it is easier to differentiate right from wrong instantly. She said overthinking can be a big issue for students and sometimes it is best to answer with your gut.

“I definitely recommend getting all the preparation you can get, whether that is with a tutor, at home practice tests, and so on,” Savitz said. “Not only will this get you very prepared for the format of the test but also the timing.

Savitz said people thinking of taking any test should keep a good work ethic, register early, not stress and take the proper steps to best prepare themselves when the big day comes. Pollino recommended that juniors take the SAT at least twice before the free test in March, but said she warns against over-taking tests, be the SAT or ACT.

“Do not take every single test, and take a break between tests,” Pollino said. “Most importantly, don’t compare your score to other students taking it and look at the colleges you want to go to and see what SAT or ACT score they require, or if they even require one at all.”